With five months left in 2015, Ireland is set for a record-breaking year in tourism.
Not bad for a county that entered a major recession less than a decade ago.
Figures from Ireland’s Central Statistics Office for the first half of 2015 show a 12% growth in overseas visitors to the entire island of Ireland.
That’s 407,100 more visitors between January and July of 2015 than during the same period last year.
The most notable increase in visitors has come from North America, Britain and mainland Europe, with a 15% boost in visitors from North America, a 35% increase in tourists from Italy, and a surges of 15%, 13% and 12% from Spain, France and Germany. So far this year Britain has brought Ireland 9.4% more visitors than last year.
To accommodate this influx, there will be expanded flight routes and increased airplane capacity, Niall Gibbons, CEO of Tourism Ireland announced – particularly for winter and year-round routes.
Aer Lingus will be increasing capacity on its transatlantic routes, he said, while Delta will be expanding the capacity for its flights from New York’s JFK Airport to Dublin. Aer Lingus will also increase capacity on its flights into Ireland from a slew of European cities, including Amsterdam, Brussels, Geneva, Paris and Zurich.
New routes to be added include London to Cork via CityJet, and Dusseldorf to Cork via Aer Lingus.
If this tourism trend continues, Ireland will be set to meet the tourism sector targets it set for 2025, which include 10 million yearly overseas visits to Ireland, $5.5 billion (€5 billion) in yearly revenue from overseas tourism, and 10,000 additional jobs in the industry.
However, on the heels of this good news, Ireland’s Minister for Tourism Paschal Donohue cautioned those in the tourism sector not to repeat the mistakes of Ireland’s Celtic Tiger past, noting, as the Irish Times reported, that the current special 9% tax rate was “dependent on the industry offering value for money.”
“We must be mindful of the mistakes that were made in the past and ensure they are not repeated. Our value for money rating has improved dramatically in recent years” he said.
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